Do you know how many types of silk there are?
Experts say there are up to 50 types of silk in the market today. However, the experts cannot always differentiate between the different types of silk just by looking at them. These silk fabrics are made from a variety of silkworms; while others are made from spiders and mussels.
The most used types of silk
While there are 35 most used types of silk, only a few are most commonly produced and purchased for garment making and furniture making.
Here’s a guide below:
Mulberry silk is the best quality and most commonly produced silk. This is also the most expensive type of silk and dominates over 80% of the market. This silk has its history in China where the farmers grow mulberry trees and domesticate silkworms. These silkworms are fed the mulberry leaves till they make their cocoons which are then spun into raw fibres. Mulberry silk fibers are strong, and durable. It also contains a high level of the protein sericin which reduces the risk of allergic reactions. It is also odorless and all natural. Mulberry silk was used to make parachutes in the past, and now is currently used to make durable items like sleeping bags and comforters and scarves, and articles of clothing.
Silk Charmeuse ( Silk Satin)
This is the top of mind silk fabric when silk is spoken about. Charmeuse or silk satin has a satin weave. The front of the fabric has a shimmery look while the back has a flat matte look. Charmeuse is always confused with satin, however it is more lustrous and shiny than satin is. It is cheaper than mulberry silk. Charmeuse drapes beautifully and is perfect for manufacturing dresses, lingerie, and blouses.
Chiffon is a sheer fabric that has a rough gauze texture made from fine twisted fibres that are spaced out to create the transparent effect. It is lightweight with a slight stretch to it. Silk chiffon drapes and can be used to create billows to give garments a flowy effect, Chiffon is commonly used for wedding dresses, evening dresses and formal dresses. It can also be used for scarves, blouses and shirts.
Georgette is a fine, plain-weave fabric with a rough texture. It is sheer, lightweight and made with twisted yarns. Georgette is heavier than chiffon, does not hold creases and drapes beautifully. It was named after the French dressmaker Georgette la Plante. Georgette is also used for blouses and formal dresses as well as evening gowns and scarves.
Dupion is a strong, tightly woven silk with double thread creating a textured appearance. This silk is durable and has a shine to it. There is an occasional black speck running along the weave which is set to be the part of the original cocoon of the silkworm. Dupion is perfect for formal and evening dresses, jackets and bridal attire.
Silk Organza is a sheer, open-weave fabric with a smooth finish and stiff drape. If you’re looking for silk to make collars, veils or even bases for embellished fabrics, then you have chosen the right silk. The highly twisted threads of this open-weave fabric make it strong and durable . It is also used for curtains, screens, netting over beds and evening gowns. This fabric creases so it should be carefully steamed.
Also called Tussah silk, shantung is similar to Dupion in texture, however, its finish is more irregular. Shantung is stiff while being light and delicate. This silk is medium weight to heavy and is made with short threads. It is very shiny and coarse and is not prone to creasing. It is a wild silk made from silkworms fed on oak leaves.
Habotai is also called Pongee, Habutai or China silk and it is the classic silk fabric. It is a soft, lightweight fabric with a smooth surface and beautiful draping qualities. Habotai is a glossy, plain-weave fabric and is commonly used for lining. The weights of this silk range from 5mm to 12mm. It can also be used for making scarves, blouses and lingerie.
Paula London currently stocks mulberry silk twill and silk satin scarves for your fashion needs. Keep your eyes open for new silk additions coming soon.